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How skiing benefits your health

One hour of skiing burns 400 to 600 calories, just like an hour of running. But when you take into account that a day on the slopes also gives you a big dose of vitamin D and endorphins, you can understand why skiing is a great choice if you’re looking to improve your health this winter.

For those looking to get fit in the mountains, we have put together a series of articles titled “How to Get in Shape Before the Ski Season”

In this first article of our series, we explore the benefits of skiing for your body, both physically and psychologically.


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How skiing benefits your body

Skiing is an exciting sport with many benefits for the body and general well-being.

A man skis through powder
Skiing has many benefits for the mind and body – photo by Jörg Angeli

Stronger muscles and improved balance

Skiing uses a whole range of muscles. The thighs and buttocks are used, as well as the abdominal muscles and, when you use poles, the muscles of the upper body.

Hurtling down the slopes also stimulates the cardiovascular and respiratory system, with improved endurance and lung capacity helping to reduce fatigue and increase stamina.

Skiing also requires precise coordination between the upper and lower body to perform turns, jumps and manoeuvres. Regular practice improves balance, proprioception (sense of body position) and muscular reactivity.

Benefits for the joints

Unlike some high-impact activities, skiing is relatively gentle on the joints, as it is generally practised on a smooth, snow-covered surface, limiting the impact on knees and ankles.

It’s particularly good for strengthening the stabilising muscles, as it requires constant balance on an unstable surface, and doing so contributes to better posture and greater resistance to injury.

A pair of skis at the top of a groomed piste
Skiing particularly strengthens the stabilising muscles. © Canva

Boosting wellbeing and self-confidence

Skiing gives you the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air and the beauty of the snow-covered landscape at the same time. This combination of physical exercise and contact with nature can have a soothing and comforting effect, improving mood and reducing stress and anxiety.

It can also double up as a personal challenge. Whether it’s facing up to your fear of heights or speed, or trying out new techniques or more difficult slopes, skiing can give you a sense of achievement and boost your self-esteem.

Finally, it’s often enjoyed as part of a group, with family or friends. Therefore, it’s an opportunity to develop social bonds, share experiences and create memories.

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Why do you need to prepare for your ski holiday?

To get the most out of a skiing holiday, we strongly recommend being in good physical condition. Skiing is a demanding physical activity that calls on various muscle groups, their endurance and your cardiovascular system.

Therefore, getting back into shape before you go skiing has many benefits that will contribute to a more enjoyable, safe and rewarding skiing experience.

A skier in the middle of a jump
Skiing is a physically demanding activity © Canva

Preventing injuries

One of the main reasons for getting back into shape before skiing is to help prevent injuries. Skiing can put a lot of pressure on muscles, joints and ligaments, especially if they are not used to regular physical activity.

By strengthening your muscles and improving the stability of your joints, you will considerably reduce the risk of injury whilst on the slopes.

Improve your stamina and physical condition

As well as helping to prevent injury, being fit will also improve your stamina. Skiing days can be long and the mountains can be demanding. If you’re not in good shape, you will probably tire quickly, which could limit your time on the slopes. Therefore, a good level of stamina means you can make the most of a day’s skiing without feeling exhausted.

What’s more, being in good physical condition makes it easier for you to adapt to altitude. Your body will be able to supply oxygen to the muscles more easily, reducing the feeling of tiredness and shortness of breath. There is also less risk of altitude sickness, as a well-trained body manages the physiological changes associated with altitude more effectively.

A skier on a steep descent
Being in good physical shape will help you adapt to altitude ©Canva

Better reflexes

Another reason why it’s essential to be fit for skiing is to improve your reactivity. Conditions can change rapidly on the slopes. Therefore, you need to be able to react quickly to avoid obstacles or dangerous situations.

Agility and responsiveness are greatly improved when you’re in good physical condition, so you can ski more fluidly and safely.

A competitive mindset

As well as the physical aspects, getting into shape before skiing can also boost your self-confidence. Skiing can be intimidating, especially for beginners or those who haven’t skied for a while. However, when you’re in good shape and have taken time to prepare, you feel more confident about your abilities.

Finally, being in shape for skiing also reduces the stress on the body and avoids muscle and joint pain after just a few descents so you can ski longer and more comfortably.

Skiers travelling on a chairlift over the slope
Getting back into shape before going skiing will make skiing more comfortable and last longer. © Canva


Skiing is a challenging yet rewarding activity that provides numerous benefits for both the body and the mind.

However, to ensure that you bring back good memories of your trip, some preparation is necessary. To assess your physical condition, check out the second article in our series, “Are you fit for skiing this winter?”

If you want to be fully prepared for your trip, here are some other topics you can explore:

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About Author

Hi, I'm Lindsay, and I work on the editorial side of the OVO Network team. I'm based in Kent, England and love this job as it combines my passions for words and travelling to beautiful places.

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